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Throw out the records, it’s SV vs. Tomales

Willy Lepori brings speed to the relentless Tomales ground game as the Braves try to make it three North Central II/Bay Football League wins in a row on their home turf.

SUMNER FOWLER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.

The St. Vincent and Tomales high school varsity football teams have several things in common. They are in the same league —the North Central League II/Bay Football League. They have similar records — St. Vincent is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league. Tomales is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in league. They have a mutual respect for one another, but they both want to beat the other only a little bit less than they want to breathe.

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Willy Lepori brings speed to the relentless Tomales ground game as the Braves try to make it three North Central II/Bay Football League wins in a row on their home turf.

SUMNER FOWLER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER

On the field they are total opposites. Tomales packs its line shoulder-to-shoulder, puts the quarterback under center and the vast majority of the time runs tackle to tackle. St. Vincent spreads its offense all over the field, runs inside, outside and every where else, and seeks a balance between passing and running. Tomales normally throws only for effect.

Which style will prevail and which team will emerge as a continued league title contender will be determined Friday night (7:30 p.m. kickoff) under the lights at Andy Azevedo Field in Tomales.

There is little to nothing to be gleamed by comparative scores. Tomales lost to Emery, 49-32, while St. Vincent, last week, beat Emery 27-8. On the other hand, St. Vincent lost to California School for the Deaf, 28-21, while Tomales beat CSD, 30-20. Both teams lost to small-school power St. Helena, with St. Vincent falling, 12-7, while Tomales slipped, 20-0. Scores don’t mean much in this game anyway.

Tomales tends to play defense with its offense, preventing opposing teams from scoring by simply denying them the ball with long time-consuming drives. The ball mostly goes to 220-pound load Anthony Feliciano, who has gained 647 yards despite missing two games with an injury, but the Braves have four other rushers with more than 200 ground yards, including speedster Willy Lepori who should be healthy after missing a game with an injury of his own.

St. Vincent will try to stand its ground behind 235-pound Paul Gregorian on the defensive front line and rely on active linebackers Zach Sitchler, the team’s leading tackler, and Derek Murphy to make the stops. Tomales will try to push them out of the way with five linemen that go over 220 pounds, led by outstanding two-way player and team captain Danny Moretti.

Murphy leads the St. Vincent ground game, and is also the favorite pass target for new quarterback Jack Richardson, who is having an excellent season both passing and running in his first year at quarterback.

They will be opposed by a strong Tomales defense, keyed by Moretti, Lepori and stand-your-ground defensive end Dante Feliciano.

With unbeaten Calistoga still looming on both teams’ schedules, and both already with a league loss, the game shapes up as a must-win for both sides and a treat for both rooting sections.

Petaluma idle

Petaluma’s Trojans, basking in the glow of back-to-back wins for the first time all season, draw a bye this week, which gives them a needed extra week before they face Sonoma County League unbeaten powerhouse Analy in Sebastopol on Nov. 1. The Trojans’ 55-8 win over Elsie Allen last week evened their season at 4-4 and 2-2 in league.

Beware the trap

Casa Grande’s Gauchos, the No. 1-rated large-school team in the Redwood Empire, must beware stepping into the same trap that almost nailed Montgomery last week. Coming off a big 42-13 win over defending North Bay League champion Rancho Cotate, the Gauchos host Ukiah Friday night. Ukiah’s Wildcats are 2-5 on the season and haven’t won an NBL game.

That being said, the Wildcats took No. 3-ranked Montgomery into three overtimes before finally losing, 38-35, last week. Two weeks ago, they held a Rancho Cotate team that gave Casa all it could handle for three quarters, to a single touchdown in a 7-0 loss.

The Wildcats have some weapons. New quarterback Cheyenne Noda, who took over two weeks ago when starter Shane Bearts went down, is an athlete. Last week against Montgomery, Noda passed for 188 yards and ran for 129 more.

If the Gauchos concentrate too much on keeping him contained, fullback Koa Sibley is capable of providing a hurt with the inside game.

In addition, the Wildcats are one of the few teams that can match the Gaucho size, averaging 6-feet, 4-inches and 225 pounds across its front line.

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